Heritage

15 Photos That Show What Princess Diana Was Like Before Royal Life

She had a pet pony named Scuffle!
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Engaged at 19 and married at 20, Princess Diana's childhood was relatively short. But before her fairytale wedding, Lady Diana Spencer lived a relatively quiet life that involved piano lessons, odd jobs and a very '70s bridesmaid dress.

1965


Born Diana Frances Spencer on July 1, 1961, the future royal grew up in a noble family on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk.

1970


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Diana lived a very quiet life until her parents' bitter 1969 divorce made tabloid headlines, the Washington Post reported. Here, the 9-year-old enjoys a game of croquet while on vacation in West Sussex.

1971


As a student, Diana first attended a prep school and then a boarding school. She particularly excelled at piano and ballet, and received a special award for community service, according to the Royal Household website.

1974


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The teen (with some very '70s denim!) kept a pet pony named "Scuffle." By 1975, she would become Lady Diana Spencer after her father inherited the title of Earl Spencer.

1978


Right around the time she attended a Swiss finishing school, Diana served as a bridesmaid at her sister Lady Jane Spencer's London wedding. At this point she had already met Prince Charles—when he was dating her other sister, Lady Sarah.

1980


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In 1980, the heir apparent started taking a serious interest in the 19-year-old as a potential bride. Diana was living in London at this point, intermittently working as a dance instructor, nanny, and nursery assistant. Here she is at her job with Young England Kindergarten school in Pimlico.

1980


The press caught wind of their budding relationship by the fall of that year. When this picture was taken in September, "Shy Di" had allegedly "gently reversed her car into a tree, whilst trying to drive and shield her face from the photographer at the same time."

1980


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By November, Diana received an invitation to the Queen's own house at Sandringham, sparking further engagement rumors. Here she is leaving her London apartment the week before.

1980


Before she earned the status of fashion icon, the future bride topped her evening gown with a plain wool coat at Princess Margaret's 50th birthday party. Of course, she would soon own hundreds of designer dresses.

1980


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Photographed outside of her flat in December, Lady Diana Spencer was about to become the first Englishwoman in centuries to marry an heir apparent, and the first one in all of royal history to have a paying job before the engagement.

1981


Prince Charles proposed to the 19-year-old in February 1981. She picked her engagement ring—an 18-carat sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds—out of the Gerrad jewelry catalog.

1981


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With a wedding set for July, Lady Diana Spencer kicked back in rubber boots and a casual sweater while at the Scottish royal residence Balmoral.

1981


Crowds gathered to catch a glimpse of the future princess during a visit to Tetbury on May 22, 1981.

1981


The media frequently followed Diana in the summer days leading up the wedding. Here she is in Windsor after the Ascot races on June 16, 1981.

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1981


The constant press attention wore down on Diana. At one polo match that July, "the persistence of the paparazzi" caused the 20-year-old to start crying, the Washington Post reported at the time. With her wedding only a few days away, her life in the spotlight had officially begun.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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